Muse set to start £50m Blackpool civil service building

Muse is set to start work on phase 3 of its £350m Blackpool Talbot Gateway scheme after the Department for Work and Pensions confirmed it will take the block as a new regional office hub.

The deal with the civil service brings forward construction of the planned BREEAM ‘Excellent’ building – designed by renowned architect Make.

Blackpool Council’s planning committee will meet next week to give final approval for the 215,000 sq ft ultra-low energy office building.

Mike Horner, development director at Muse, said: “We’re looking forward to welcoming the DWP to Talbot Gateway with our latest sustainable building becoming its new home. This  is a resounding endorsement of our collective commitment to bringing forward developments that offer tangible environmental and social outputs to benefit local communities.

“We’ve got some real forward momentum here at Talbot Gateway, as we work hard to build back better and further drive inward investment and opportunities right into the heart of the town.”

Development is already progressing well on phase two of Talbot Gateway, with construction of a 144-bedroom Holiday Inn hotel which is due for completion next year. The scheme also includes a new tram terminus on Talbot Road.

The Talbot Gateway scheme currently being delivered by Muse in partnership with Blackpool Council, and will see the creation of a 1.1m sq ft central business district and civic quarter.

In addition to the hotel, the team has also delivered the 125,000 sq ft Number One Bickerstaffe Square, a Sainsburys supermarket and a refurbished 650-space multi-storey car park, alongside extensive public space.



Did you miss our previous article…

Subcontractors still waiting too long for VAT repayments

Specialist contractors are still having to wait months before they receive reclaimed VAT payments following a controversial change in the tax regime earlier this year.

The “domestic reverse charge” change came into force in March and means companies in the construction supply chain no longer receive their 20% VAT payment when they submit bills.

The VAT cash is instead paid direct to HMRC by the customer receiving the service who will reclaim it in the normal way.

That has left a lot of specialist contractors no longer receiving VAT payments from customers but still paying them to suppliers.

In that situation subcontractors become known as “repayment traders” who are owed money at the end of each quarter by HMRC.

Firms first contacted the Enquirer over the summer claiming HMRC is not paying the cash back quickly enough.

And subcontractors are still being left waiting and suffering a hit to their cash flows.

One M&E specialist said: “We are still waiting on our April quarterly refund plus the latest quarter with around £1m of working capital revenues tied-up.

“HMRC still can’t give us a definite date for payment and just say it is being processed and told us not to bother ringing up again to chase it.”

Another specialist added: “The industry is coping with price hikes, wages hikes and material shortages so working capital can be challenged at times so to have necessary revenues held onto by HMRC via this scheme is just not on.”

An HMRC spokesperson said: “HMRC aim to make VAT repayments within 30 calendar days of receiving a return.

`’In most cases claims are paid within five working days of receipt of the return. However, if we select it for verification checks, this could take 30 days or longer, dependent upon how long it takes the customer to provide the information requested to verify the return.”

BAM first to join industry pallet reuse scheme to cut waste

BAM has become the first contractor to take up a fledgling pallet reuse scheme aiming for dramatic cuts to industry timber waste.

The Pallet Loop scheme involves using more robust distinctive green pallets that its operators recover, repair and reuse.

Widespread adoption of The Pallet LOOP across construction could achieve 40% less CO2 emissions and a 75% reduction in timber usage, compared to current pallet use.

Other firms looking at the scheme include Careys, Morgan Sindall and Willmott Dixon.

Founded by some of the biggest names in the pallet industry, The Pallet LOOP could transform the way building materials move throughout the industry supply chain as they are returned to manufacturers and distributors to complete the loop.

BAM’s Head of Procurement, Dan Billinge, said the firm has been trialling the green pallet scheme at some of its sites.

“The critical success factor here is the collaboration of the whole supply chain. Over 95% of the pallets coming onto our sites are for materials purchased by a subcontractor and we need them to be on board as well as the suppliers and manufacturers so it’s ‘call of action’ from us to them.”

How scheme works

The green Loop pallets are stronger than existing designs. They are distributed to manufacturers, who transport products on them to construction sites after paying a deposit per pallet.

As pallets move through the supply chain, the deposit passes from manufacturer to merchant to end-user. After being stacked and stored The Pallet LOOP collects them, reducing site clutter and returns deposits. It then repairs and recirculates them.

Some 18 million pallets are manufactured for the UK construction industry and estimates suggest less than 10% are currently reused; yet pallets form up to 10% of construction waste.

Creating industry pallets requires an estimated 6,000 acres of forestry to be harvested every year, with a further 236,000 acres grown to cater for future demand.

Paul Lewis, Founder of The Pallet LOOP, said: “We aim to sustainably manage and reduce the cost of pallets for our customers – making palletised logistics greener and leaner.

“At present, the vast majority of pallets circulating in the sector are designed for single use.

“The current industry specification for pallets works on the assumption that they will be scrapped or skipped once they reach their final destination.

“We’re turning this outdated, inefficient and linear practice on its head. In a step-change for the sector, we’ve developed a range of standardised pallets, engineered to last and to be used again and again.”


Did you miss our previous article…